Skip to main content
explainer

Thousands gathered in London on Sept. 19 to honour a sovereign whose death at the age of 96 ended a long, eventful era of the monarchy. Here’s what you need to know

London, Sept. 19: The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is carried out of Westminster Abbey with the Imperial State Crown resting on top.Gareth Cattermole/Pool via REUTERS

Queen Elizabeth had a final, solemn day of pomp on Monday at a state funeral concluding more than a week of mourning since her death on Sept. 8. Leaders came from Britain, Canada and other countries whose head of state she had been since 1952, a role now filled by her son, King Charles III.

In Canada – where this funeral is only the sixth time the nation has mourned a monarch since Confederation in 1867 – spectators watched a parade to Ottawa’s Christ Church Cathedral, while 96 gun salutes, one for each year of the Queen’s life, were fired from Lebreton Flats. And across the country, people who had met the Queen in life shared their stories.

Here’s an overview of how we came to this historic moment. Follow The Globe and Mail’s live blog and our journalists on Twitter for Monday’s latest news.

  • King Charles III, left, watches as The Lord Chamberlain Baron Parker breaks his Wand of Office, marking the end of his service to the sovereign, during a committal service for Queen Elizabeth.Joe Giddens/The Associated Press

    1 of 50


U.K. mourning: State funeral and Operation London Bridge

Monday’s state funeral was the culmination of an official mourning plan – called Operation Unicorn in its Scottish phase, and Operation London Bridge for the main activities nationwide – in which the British government laid out years in advance exactly what should happen when the Queen passed away.

Members of royal household staff post a notice of the Queen's death on the gates of the Buckingham Palace on Sept. 8.VICTORIA JONES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

What happened before Sept. 19

  • The Queen died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Sept. 8, surrounded by members of the Royal Family. They announced the news with a framed notice on the railing outside Buckingham Palace in London, as well as by e-mail and official websites.
  • The coffin travelled from Aberdeen to Edinburgh by train on Sept. 11, spending a night at Holyroodhouse castle before a procession to St. Giles’ Cathedral on Sept. 12. There, thousands of Scots paid their respects at the public viewing.
  • The new King Charles III toured the U.K.’s parliaments to hear official condolences: The national and Scottish legislatures did so on Sept. 12, the Northern Irish one on Sept. 13 and the Welsh one on Sept. 16.
  • The coffin arrived in London on Sept. 13 and was carried the next day to the Houses of Parliament to lie in state. Thousands of Britons lined up at Westminster Hall, forming a queue that at times stretched eight kilometres long.

The coffin is carried into Westminster Abbey.BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Monday’s scene in London

The funeral day began with a procession of the coffin to Westminster Abbey, which was first consecrated in 1065 for Edward the Confessor. Military and police officers, including members of the RCMP, went ahead of the coffin; behind it were King Charles, his sons and other members of the Royal Family.

Inside the abbey were some 2,000 guests, including monarchs from four continents, from Japan and the Netherlands to Lesotho and Tonga. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke to them about the Queen’s “abundant life and loving service” through her 70-year reign:

Her late majesty famously declared on a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth. Rarely has such a promise been so well kept. Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.

Londoners were able to watch the proceedings on big screens set up in Hyde Park, where thousands went quiet as soon as Queen Elizabeth’s coffin appeared. Those crowds cheered and sang along with God Save the King as the service ended and the coffin was taken away for a parade to the Wellington Arch.

LONDON

Windsor

Castle

0

20

KM

Hyde

Park

St. James’

Palace

Admiralty

Arch

Horse

Guards

The Mall

Big Ben

10 Downing St.

Buckingham

Palace

Wellington

Arch

Westminster

Abbey

Palace of

Westminster

FUNERAL SCHEDULE

1

Sept. 19, 10:44 a.m. local time:

Queen’s coffin goes from Westminster Hall on Royal Navy State Gun Carriage, followed on foot by King and senior members of Royal Family

2

10:52 a.m.: Procession arrives at Westminster Abbey

3

11 a.m.: Funeral service begins, conducted by Dean of Westminster David Hoyle, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby giving sermon. Service attended by 2,000 guests, including members of Royal Family, European royals and heads of state from around the world

4

11:55 a.m.: Last Post sounded, followed by national two-minute silence. Service ends with national anthem, then lament played by Queen’s piper

5

12 p.m.: Coffin replaced on State Gun Carriage and taken to Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, in procession led by Royal Canadian Mounted Police and members of NHS staff. Big Ben tolls and guns fire in Hyde Park at one-minute intervals

6

1 p.m.: Queen’s coffin transferred to hearse and driven to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

WESTMINSTER ABBEY

Contains tombs or memorials of over 3,300 prominent Britons including 17 monarchs, eight prime ministers, writers, musicians, actors, scientists and military leaders

ROYAL COFFIN

Draped in Royal Standard, adorned with crown, orb, sceptre and wreath of flowers. Carried through nave and quire to platform by eight Grenadier Guards

STATE GUN CARRIAGE

Last seen in 1979 for funeral of Lord Mountbatten

40 sailors behind

acting as brake

Pulled by 98 sailors

using drag ropes

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; GRAPHIC NEWS; REUTERS

LONDON

Windsor

Castle

0

20

KM

Hyde

Park

St. James’

Palace

Admiralty

Arch

Horse

Guards

The Mall

Big Ben

10 Downing St.

Buckingham

Palace

Wellington

Arch

Westminster

Abbey

Palace of

Westminster

FUNERAL SCHEDULE

1

Sept. 19, 10:44 a.m. local time:

Queen’s coffin goes from Westminster Hall on Royal Navy State Gun Carriage, followed on foot by King and senior members of Royal Family

2

10:52 a.m.: Procession arrives at Westminster Abbey

3

11 a.m.: Funeral service begins, conducted by Dean of Westminster David Hoyle, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby giving sermon. Service attended by 2,000 guests, including members of Royal Family, European royals and heads of state from around the world

4

11:55 a.m.: Last Post sounded, followed by national two-minute silence. Service ends with national anthem, then lament played by Queen’s piper

5

12 p.m.: Coffin replaced on State Gun Carriage and taken to Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, in procession led by Royal Canadian Mounted Police and members of NHS staff. Big Ben tolls and guns fire in Hyde Park at one-minute intervals

6

1 p.m.: Queen’s coffin transferred to hearse and driven to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

WESTMINSTER ABBEY

Contains tombs or memorials of over 3,300 prominent Britons including 17 monarchs, eight prime ministers, writers, musicians, actors, scientists and military leaders

ROYAL COFFIN

Draped in Royal Standard, adorned with crown, orb, sceptre and wreath of flowers. Carried through nave and quire to platform by eight Grenadier Guards

STATE GUN CARRIAGE

Last seen in 1979 for funeral of Lord Mountbatten

40 sailors behind

acting as brake

Pulled by 98 sailors

using drag ropes

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; GRAPHIC NEWS; REUTERS

Piccadilly Circus

LONDON

Charing

Cross

6

TRAFALGAR

SQUARE

Detail

Windsor

Castle

Pall Mall

Embankment

0

20

Admiralty

Arch

KM

Horse Guards

St. James’ Palace

Hyde

Park

Green Park

Hyde Park

Corner

The Mall

10 Downing St.

St. James’ Park

5

Big Ben

Buckingham

Palace

Wellington

Arch

Birdcage Walk

1

St. James’ Park

Victoria St.

2, 3 and 4

CENTRAL LONDON

Westminster

Abbey

Palace of

Westminster

0

100

m

FUNERAL SCHEDULE

1

4

Sept. 19, 10:44 a.m. local time:

Queen’s coffin goes from Westminster Hall on Royal Navy State Gun Carriage, followed on foot by King and senior members of Royal Family

11:55 a.m.: Last Post sounded, followed by national two-minute silence. Service ends with national anthem, then lament played by Queen’s piper

5

12 p.m.: Coffin replaced on State Gun Carriage and taken to Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, in procession led by Royal Canadian Mounted Police and members of NHS staff. Big Ben tolls and guns fire in Hyde Park at one-minute intervals

2

10:52 a.m.: Procession arrives at Westminster Abbey

3

11 a.m.: Funeral service begins, conducted by Dean of Westminster David Hoyle, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby giving sermon. Service attended by 2,000 guests, including members of Royal Family, European royals and heads of state from around the world

6

1 p.m.: Queen’s coffin transferred to hearse and driven to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

WESTMINSTER ABBEY

Contains tombs or memorials of over 3,300 prominent Britons including 17 monarchs, eight prime ministers, writers, musicians, actors, scientists and military leaders

Tomb of Henry VII

High Altar

Tomb of Unknown Warrior

Resting place of unidentified soldier killed in World War I

Tomb of Mary,

Queen of Scots

Tomb of Elizabeth I

ROYAL COFFIN

Draped in Royal Standard, adorned with crown, orb, sceptre and wreath of flowers. Carried through nave and quire to platform by eight Grenadier Guards

Nave

Quire

STATE GUN CARRIAGE

Last seen in 1979 for funeral of Lord Mountbatten

40 sailors behind

acting as brake

Pulled by 98 sailors

using drag ropes

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; GRAPHIC NEWS; REUTERS

Canada’s delegation at the funeral

  • Current federal leaders: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor-General Mary Simon and their spouses
  • Current and former diplomats: Ralph Goodale, Canadian high commissioner to Britain; Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council and former high commissioner to Britain
  • Current Indigenous leaders: RoseAnne Archibald, Assembly of First Nations national chief; Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council
  • Former PMs: Kim Campbell, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper
  • Former G-Gs: Michaëlle Jean, David Johnston
  • Others: Mark Tewksbury, Olympic swimmer; Gregory Charles, Montreal artist; Sandra Oh, actress; Leslie Palmer, Coast Guard officer and Cross of Valour recipient

Where the Queen will be buried

Windsor Castle was the Queen’s full-time home after the start of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020. Now, it will be her final resting place, in the chapel where her parents and several former monarchs are buried.

State

apartments

Round Tower: Houses Royal Archives

St. George’s Chapel:

Spiritual home of Order of the Garter, order of chivalry established by Edward III in 1348

Curfew

Tower

Private apartments

Buckingham

Palace

LONDON

King Henry

VIII Gate

Windsor

0

20

ST. GEORGE’S CHAPEL

Among finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. Construction begun by

Edward IV in 1475

and completed by

Henry VIII in 1528

KM

High Altar

Royal Vault:

Ten former

Sovereigns are buried

at St. George’s Chapel.

Nave

Tomb of George V and Queen Mary, Queen’s grandparents

Electric lift: Lowers funeral plinth into the Royal Vault

Quire: Tombs include Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, and Charles I, executed in 1649

KING GEORGE VI MEMORIAL CHAPEL

Small chapel with its own vault, added in 1969. First structural addition to exterior of St. George’s Chapel since 1528

King George VI

Dec. 14, 1895 –

Feb. 6, 1952

Queen Elizabeth

The Queen Mother

Aug. 4, 1900 –

March 30, 2002

Princess Margaret

Aug. 21, 1930 –

Feb. 9, 2002

Prince Philip,

Duke of Edinburgh

June 10, 1921 –

April 9, 2021

Black marble gravestone Inscribed in gold lettering with names of George VI and his wife, Elizabeth

graphic news, Sources: Windsor Castle, The Royal Family

State

apartments

Round Tower: Houses Royal Archives

St. George’s Chapel:

Spiritual home of Order of the Garter, order of chivalry established by Edward III in 1348

Curfew

Tower

Private apartments

Buckingham

Palace

LONDON

King Henry

VIII Gate

Windsor

0

20

ST. GEORGE’S CHAPEL

Among finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. Construction begun by

Edward IV in 1475

and completed by

Henry VIII in 1528

KM

High Altar

Royal Vault:

Ten former Sovereigns are buried at St. George’s Chapel.

Nave

Tomb of George V and Queen Mary, Queen’s grandparents

Electric lift: Lowers funeral plinth into the Royal Vault

Quire: Tombs include Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, and Charles I, executed in 1649

KING GEORGE VI MEMORIAL CHAPEL

Small chapel with its own vault, added in 1969. First structural addition to exterior of St. George’s Chapel since 1528

King George VI

Dec. 14, 1895 –

Feb. 6, 1952

Queen Elizabeth

The Queen Mother

Aug. 4, 1900 –

March 30, 2002

Princess Margaret

Aug. 21, 1930 –

Feb. 9, 2002

Prince Philip,

Duke of Edinburgh

June 10, 1921 –

April 9, 2021

Black marble gravestone Inscribed in gold lettering with names of George VI and his wife, Elizabeth

graphic news, Sources: Windsor Castle, The Royal Family

State apartments

Round Tower: Houses Royal Archives

St. George’s Chapel:

Spiritual home of Order of the Garter, order of chivalry established by Edward III in 1348

Curfew

Tower

Private apartments

Buckingham

Palace

LONDON

King Henry

VIII Gate

Windsor

0

20

KM

ST. GEORGE’S CHAPEL

Among finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. Construction begun by Edward IV in 1475 and completed by Henry VIII in 1528

Royal Vault:

Ten former Sovereigns are buried at St. George’s Chapel. Kings George III (d.1820), George IV (d.1830); William IV (d.1837) lie in Royal Vault. Prince Philip was temporarily laid to rest in Royal Vault in 2021. He will be relocated to George VI Memorial Chapel, to lie alongside his wife of 73 years

High Altar

Nave

Tomb of George V and Queen Mary, Queen’s grandparents

Electric lift: Lowers funeral plinth into the Royal Vault

Quire: Tombs include Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, and Charles I, executed in 1649

KING GEORGE VI MEMORIAL CHAPEL

Small chapel with its own vault, added in 1969. First structural addition to exterior of St. George’s Chapel since 1528

King George VI

Dec. 14, 1895 –

Feb. 6, 1952

Early death at age 56

made Elizabeth Queen

Queen Elizabeth

The Queen Mother

Aug. 4, 1900 –

March 30, 2002

Died at age 101

Princess Margaret

Aug. 21, 1930 –

Feb. 9, 2002

Ashes interred in chapel

Prince Philip,

Duke of Edinburgh

June 10, 1921 –

April 9, 2021

Black marble gravestone Inscribed in gold lettering with names of George VI and his wife, Elizabeth

graphic news, Sources: Windsor Castle, The Royal Family

Canadian mourning: Tributes in the capital, time off for some

Memorial service in Ottawa

Monday′s commemorations in the nation’s capital began with a military and RCMP parade to Christ Church Cathedral, where about 600 guests gathered to hear tributes to the Queen. At Lebreton Flats, gunners fired a 96-shot salute.

0

150

GATINEAU

m

Garden of the Provinces and Territories

Parliament

of Canada

Ottawa

River

Wellington St

Elgin St

OTTAWA

Queen St

Laurier Ave W

Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa

Start: 12:10 p.m.

Cartier Square Drill Hall

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN;

OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS

0

150

GATINEAU

m

Garden of the Provinces and Territories

Parliament

of Canada

Confedration

Park

Ottawa

River

Wellington St

Elgin St

OTTAWA

Queen St

Laurier Ave W

Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa

Start: 12:10 p.m.

Cartier Square Drill Hall

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN;

OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS

0

150

m

GATINEAU

Parliament

of Canada

Ottawa River

Confederation Park

Elgin St

Wellington St

Victoria

Island

OTTAWA

Garden of the Provinces and Territories

Laurier Ave W

Queen St

Start: 12:10 p.m.

Cartier Square Drill Hall

DOWNTOWN

Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa

CENTRETOWN

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS

Who got a stat holiday on Sept. 19?

Federal employees got a one-off holiday on the funeral day, but it was optional for employers in federally regulated industries; banks opened as usual. Provinces – whose jurisdiction covers 85 to 90 per cent of the Canadian work force – chose a mix of approaches:

  • Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta: No holiday for public servants, schools or private businesses.
  • Manitoba: Non-essential government offices to close, schools and businesses stay open.
  • B.C.: Schools and most Crown corporations to close, other public-sector employers “advised” to let staff take the day off, no holiday for businesses.
  • PEI: Government workers and schools get the day off, and private employers must compensate staff who work Sept. 19 as they would for a regular stat holiday.
  • Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador: Government offices and schools to close, no holiday for businesses.

Queen Elizabeth at a glance

  • Princess Elizabeth with the Duke and Duchess of York, later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in 1929. Born on April 21, 1926, the young Elizabeth would grow up to be Britain's longest-serving monarch.

    1 of 77
  • Age: 96
  • Reigned for: 70 years, seven months and three days. That’s a record for British sovereigns, though not for Canadian ones; Canada’s royal line includes the French kings who colonized Quebec, and one of them, Louis XIV, reigned for 72 years in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Role in Canada: Elizabeth’s reign, which covered the tenures of 12 prime ministers, was a time of massive change in Canada’s political status and relationship with the monarchy. She signed the Constitution Act of 1982 that introduced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and gave Canada the power to change its founding documents without the involvement of Britain’s Parliament. She made 22 official visits to Canada before leaving overseas travel to her children and grandchildren.
  • Role in the Commonwealth: Elizabeth took the throne when the British Empire was waning and its former (and soon-to-be-former) colonies asserted themselves as equals. Many of those countries still co-operate through the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of which the monarch is the symbolic chief. It now has 54 member states, 15 of which are Commonwealth realms where the monarch is head of state: These include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas and Papua New Guinea. (Barbados became a republic in 2021, though it is still a Commonwealth member; Jamaica’s government aims to transition toward a republic in 2025.)

The Queen dies: More from The Globe and Mail

The Decibel

Vicky Mochama, a Globe contributor who writes about the Royal Family, looks back at the Queen’s achievements and what the monarchy’s future might be without her. Subscribe for more episodes.


Her Majesty’s legacy

Obituary: Queen Elizabeth, the monarch of modernity

Jennifer Robson: Elizabeth, queen of our dreams, gets to rest at last. Do we?

In visits to Canada, Elizabeth left her mark as British history’s most travelled monarch


Commentary

Editorial: She was from another age. That’s why she was so good at her job

Elizabeth Renzetti: When I met the Queen and Royal Family, I realized they’re just like us, except not

John Fraser: Queen Elizabeth II, a perfect and unobtrusive sovereign, subtly shaped Canada


Compiled by Globe staff

With reports from Paul Waldie, Robert Fife, Eric Andrew-Gee, Evan Annett and The Canadian Press

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

Follow topics related to this article:

Check Following for new articles